Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Strawberry Delight Cake

It's strawberry time!!! Yeah!!! February means fresh Florida Strawberries are ripe and ready for picking (and much cheaper to buy) and that means time for Strawberry Delight Cake! I know it's not decorated to the nines, but trust me, it doesn't need to be. It is 100% wonderful just the way it is! So what we have here is your basic yellow cake mix, baked into two 8" round cakes, a yummy batch of homemade vanilla butter cream, and 1 pint of sliced FRESH Strawberries. You put a nice layer of vanilla butter cream on top of the first cake layer, then (you guessed it) you pile on the strawberry slices, ALL of them. Yes, that is a lot of strawberries! Then place the second layer of cake on top, and then finish icing the rest of the cake with the vanilla butter cream, and place a few whole strawberries on top of the cake to make it pretty. This is similar to strawberry shortcake, but trust me, it is SO SO SO much butter!

I truly hope you get the chance to make this cake, as it will deffinatley become one of your favorites!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Little Mermaid Birthday Cake

One of my girlfriends daughters was having a "Disney's the Little Mermaid" themed birthday party, and since having recently gone through what I now refer to as "cake college" I asked her if she would mind if I did her cake for free, so I could get some practice. Oh, and of course she agreed, I mean free cake, who wouldn't agree? So here are some photo's of Ariel and Flounder. I felt pretty darn good about the whole thing, excpet for one small mistake. When I was coloring all of my buttercream, I forgot to leave myself some plain white buttercream for her eyes and teeth. Ooops, this is why I need the practice!

I used the piping gel trace method I learned in Wilton Course One to get Ariel on the cake. Then I filled her with tip 16 (star) and tip 4 (round).

Here is my "work in progress" shot.

And finally she is ready to go on the road. Everyone loved it, especially the birthday girl! She requested a vanilla and chocolate marble cake, with vanilla butter cream. Hmmmm, it was yummy!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentines Day Cookies

Happy Valentines Day! Love is in the air, well actually, that's the sweet smell of sugar cookies baking in the air. Louise at Cake Journal totally inspired me to jump into cookie decorating. Her cookies are absolutely gorgeous! You can some of her wonderful work here. I have been pretty busy lately with cakes and cupcakes, and I thought my honey would appreciate something different for his Valentine's treat. Now I have made and decorated my fair share of Christmas cookies, so I wasn't totally in the dark here. But some techniques, like flooding the cookies with royal icing, were completely new to me. This was also my first time making cookie lollies, which was pretty easy and a lot of fun. Enjoy the pictures and have a wonderful Valentines day!

I made my cookie dough in the stand mixer, divided it in half, and wrapped each half in plastic wrap, and put them into the refrigerator for half an hour. The cookies roll out and cut so much better when chilled. A chilled cookie also keeps it shape better when baking, instead of spreading out. I rolled out my dough about 1/4" thich on lightly floured parchment paper, and then cut out my cookies. I made heart shaped cookie lollies with one half of my dough. The other half I made regular heart shaped cookies, and some fancy scrolled shape cookies.

Here some heart shaped cookies go into the oven. I highly reccomend baking them on parchment paper! Not only do the cookies not stick to the pan, but it makes cleaning up so much easier!

Here are my fancy scroll shape cookies, waiting patiently to go into the oven.

This is one of my heart shaped cookie lollies, post baking. Making the cookie lollie was pretty simple. I followed the excellent tutorial posted on Cake Journal.
After baking all of my cookies, I let them all cool for about four hours. And then it was time to decorate! I made royal icing and divided it into three parts. I tinted one part pastel pink, one part mint green and left one part white. When decorating, I outlined some cookies and then flooded with icing. Some I just outlined and decorated with dragee's and sprinkles. And since I had some edible pearl dust in my decorating supply box, I did a little experimenting. I mixed a little pearl dust and some vanilla extract in a small painters pallete, and painted a cookie that had already been flooded with icing and dried. It's pretty important that the icing is dry, or this will not work.
fancy scroll work cookies...
more fancy scroll work cookies...
heart shaped cookies...
heart shaped cookie lollies...
more heart shaped cookie lollies...
you get the idea...
Happy Vanetines!!!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cuppy Cakes

Yes, they are as wonderfully delicious as they sound! My sister and I love peanut butter and chocolate, so I made these little treats for her as a present for her birthday. I won't spill her age because that wouldn't be nice, but I will say she is my older sister! :)

First I mixed a basic chocolate cake mix in my stand mixer, following the directions on the box, and after the batter was completely mixed, I added about 2 Tbs of melted peanut butter and mixed that in really well. As a side note, this gave the cupcakes a hint of peanut butter flavor hidden inside the chocolate flavor. Next time I will probably use closer to 4 - 6 Tbs of peanut butter to see if this gives it more of the peanut butter flavor I was going for.

Did I mention peanut butter cups were going into the middle of these?!?! Oh Yeah! So I unwrapped 24 miniature peanut butter cups. And for quality control purposes, I made sure to sample a few pb cups while I was unwrapping. I'm sure I don't need to remind you that this is a very important step. ;) Next I divided my batter equally into two gallon sized baggies.

I clipped the corner off of one side of the baggie and then I filled each cupcake liner about 1/3 full. Then I placed a peanut butter cup in the middle of each cupcake liner. A good trick is to place the peanut butter cup upside down, so there will not be any air pockets inside your cupcake. Finally, clip a corner off of the other baggie and fill the cups up to 2/3 full. And off to the oven they go!

OK, my girls are baked and ready for more peanut butter! After the cupcakes cooled off for about 30 minutes, I melted more peanut butter and drizzled it over each cupcake! Then I let them completely cool for about four hours, before I decorated them.

Ahhh, time to make them pretty! I made my chocolate gnache frosting in advance the day before, so it had plenty of time to set up. I swirled on the gnache with a 1M tip and placed my fondant flowers (remember these?) on top, and voila! Gorgeous little beauties all ready to be enjoyed!

Too bad they're all gone, looking at them now is making me want another one!

And I had a few gum paste daisies left over from my last Wilton class, I couldn't let them go to waste now could I? No way, so here are some pretty daisy cakes too.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Fondant Flowers

I have been feeling pretty confident in myself when it comes to fondant lately. You know, as soon as Wilton hands you a piece of paper saying you've been certified, your confidence level just sky rockets! Actually, if you saw my first fondant creation, my experiment before I took the class, you would understand where I am coming from. OK, I'll show it to you, and you can even laugh at my expense, but I don't want to hear about it, OK?

Yeah, I know. It's pretty bad, actually there's really nothing pretty about it. But, what's that saying... something about knowing where you've been, or where your going... hmmm...Oh wait, yes "You can't know where your going, without knowing where you've been." That would be exactly what this cake is saying. In the future when I am banging out 5 tiered wedding cakes, covered in embossed fondant and bursting with gum paste flowers, I will still know that this was where I once was.

Now, wasn't I talking about fondant and confidence earlier? Yeah, let's get back to that! :)
So, as I was saying, after the disaster above, I whipped through 4 weeks of Wilton's Fondant and Gum Paste Course to turn out this lil' number...

... feeling much better with the fondant. So after the last class, I decided I had this fondant thing down. Why not try my own little project. I knew I had some cupcakes coming up due in my future, and planned out some really pretty purple flowers. Here is how I made them!

First I rolled out purple tinted fondant 1/4" thick. I then used my small 5 petal flower cutter to press out 12 little flowers. I worked on each flower individually from start to finish, to ensure that my flowers wouldn't dry out too quickly. I kept all of the flowers I wasn't working on under plastic wrap.

Then I dusted my flower former with cornstarch, and placed one flower in the middle of the former.

Next I rolled the ball end of my vainer inside each petal of the flower, to give it a cupped look.

This is how each petal should look after cupping the petals.

Next, I made an indention in the middle of the flower. This is where my flower center will go. I am using 4mm edible pearls as the center of my flowers.

Then I brushed a small drop of gum paste glue in the middle of the flower. This will glue the pearl to the flower, so it will not detach and roll away.

Immediately after brushing the gum paste glue, drop the pearl into place.

And here you have one completed little fondant flower! I placed my fondant flowers inside an empty egg carton to dry. I do have flower formers from one of my Wilton courses, and I do like them... However, I find the egg carton takes up less space and is more easily transported through out the house. And once the flowers have dried, you can close the egg carton and keep them safe from harms way until your ready to decorate.
Oh and not to worry, you will see these lil' guys again soon, adorning some cuppy cakes!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Are You Ready for Some Football?!?!... Cupcakes!

Yes, yes I am ready for some football! And some yummy Superbowl snacks. I am probably not THE biggest football fan that ever lived, but I do love the Superbowl. Chicken wings, nachos, frosty beverages, excellent commercials and a free concert all together in one place! Um, what's not to love? So this year I have put my new decorating skills to use and I have concocted some special Superbowl cupcakes!